Through the Lens and Beyond, Deborah Owen, Photographer

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Mother’s Day

One of my life’s greatest achievements are my children.  I have two grown boys 31 & 28 and I take delight in what wonderful young men they are.  I don’t see my oldest too often, but he holds the place in my heart where  I was hurting most. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I lost my dad and Jimmy came along a week (to the day) later.  He kept my mind occupied and I was able to move forward with life. He is my first born and is an incredible athlete and loves the outdoors and strikingly handsome, at the age of 11 a young lady from his school class came to me and said “Mrs. Owen Jimmy is so fine”  and  I would have to agree he’s is fine in all areas, he’s a great man.  Three years and three months later, my life was completely turned upside down once again with the birth of the cutest little blonde blue-eyed guy….Tommy was early and from a really difficult pregnancy and I wasn’t sure if either of us was going to make it.  Make it we did and he was so full of vim & vinegar.  Always into something and taking life by the horns.  We were told when he was little that he would grow up to do great things…..and he has;  In his 28 years so far he has been on a PBS Zoom program based on the Everglades and it’s still featured on the teacher’s portion of the PBS website.  He’s was sent to an environmental camp for Hispanic kids (he’s NOT Hispanic), and he went back the following year to film it.  He’s paddled the entire Mississippi River not once but twice by kayak and canoe, second time alone with his dog.  He wrestled a 10 foot Python out of the water, lived to tell about it and is a featured article in the 2105 Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Special Edition and he’s an incredible photographer and guide in the region he grew up in.  I spend the most time with him, because he’s closest.  It was no different this Mother’s Day.  I went down to visit him and his boss surprised him by giving him the entire day off to spend with me.  We began the day with a picnic lunch at Turner River Road and then took a short drive down the road to see if anything interesting was out.  We continued from there to the Fakahatchee (where he grew up) and walked down a newly forged path and so glad we did.  He has a keen eye for wildlife and is always looking at his surroundings for the live and interesting.  This time around he spotted something that seemed out of place, it was the entire skeleton carcass of a very large deceased alligator.  We surmised it was the remains from the emaciated alligator we had seen a few months prior, one we thought had already died.  Even though it was not in the same pond area, we felt it had moved to find deeper water and breathed it’s last in this area.  The bones were pretty much intact and some were a little scattered due to scavengers on the body, but the bones were clean and the head and jaws were massive.  We had a bit of creative inspiration with the head and I was able to get some great photographs of the alligator and of my extremely photogenic son.

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Me, Write a Book?

Recently I was told I needed to write a book. This is something I have contemplated more than a few times, but I don’t know if I have what it takes to write interesting enough words someone else will want to read.  Okay, yes I write this blog but it’s about things that are happening to me within my photographic experiences and I’m not sure what to write in book form.  Do I take my life experiences and go with that (limited as they are), or do I write fiction? My life is a bit boring, so not sure what fascinating things I could come up with to share with other’s enough to get people to pick up a book and read.  I’m a normal person, I don’t have grand adventures and I don’t visit exotic places.  I choose to stay in my area and to go out once in a while and take photos.  I guess if it’s something I’m meant to do, then it will happen so for now I will think about the subject matter and wait for the inspiration to hit me.

It was a dark and stormy night…………..

God's Light Show

God’s Light Show

How I will Move Out!

cropped-logo-2.jpg I made a decision over two years ago to work toward becoming a full time photographer. Life events changed and I needed to see if it was something I could do on my own. I set some small goals and took a year to see if I really could make it in this world of younger, more beautiful work.  Of course that notion is one self-perceived and I have found my work speaks for itself. I went into 2015 with some specific goals in mind and then I was approached about the possibility of opening a studio. That’s a bit scary because I am not sure how I would actually fund that venture, so instead I am scaling back and reassessing my goals. I belong to a women’s group called National Association of Christian Women Leaders, Inc. (NACWL) and the past few months we have been talking about a vision of moving on, moving up, and moving out. I have taken the first step in all this with the moving on. I actually moved on very quickly because I had already made that decision months prior to actually doing it.  As difficult as it was I felt it was something I was being led to do.  That’s when I decided on the year of rebuilding and finding my footing again.  I am now in the process of moving up.  I re-evaluated the goals I had set in a five year plan (which has been accelerated) and I’m collecting the information I need to become a business owner, by doing research, talking with other photographers and relying on my mentor and friend who is an extremely successful small business owner and one who gave me stellar advice which I am implementing and I trust him explicitly, he sugar coats nothing and I adore him for that. He’s only a phone call away and if I need to talk something out, he’s there to listen and to help me see things a bit differently and to give me a reality check. I’m currently in phase one of creating an intimate in house studio in a small room in my small odd shaped apartment.  During phase two I will be helped by a friend who is incredibly talented when it comes to ideas and construction (so glad I don’t have to rely on my own strengths for this).  I know I can rely on him to help me decide the best method for rigging my drops and creating movable V-flats; another gem of a friend who has championed me through some decisions by helping me to look at things differently. I believe I will be in the moving up portion for a longer period of time than I was with the moving on portion. I know God has a hand in my life by the way things are moving, because there is no way I could be doing any of this without his guiding hand.  I know that he has placed some incredibly positive people in my life to encourage me and love on me and to help me, and  he’s brought me to a group of women leaders of whom I can learn and glean incredible knowledge from and gain a huge network of support.  And to think this all came about with a ride on the back of a horse and some tough questions I needed to answer.

Passions, Frustrations and Legacies

11496_10153201783940136_1553834160_nAs a woman who sets goals for herself I work toward those goals through a timeline of individual ways of reaching those goals. Last year I wrote out a five year plan and as I completed the first year I realized I have begun a life that will allow me to be working for myself and enjoying my many passions. This is the year to really establish myself as a photographer and market myself and actually make an income.  I have also decided what type of photography I want to work in. I want to photograph weddings, portraiture; especially women and of course my events and concerts. I feel that this is where I do my very best work and I am so incredibly passionate about these avenues.

It’s not easy when people don’t value my time or effort and think all I do is “push a button”. They forget the time spent in preparation of the work, time spent actually photographing and all the post work that goes into the captured images. I belong to several online groups where I am able to share my frustrations and gain some input into how to handle those clients who don’t understand I’m creating a lifetime of memories for them. What I do is unique to me and I only put out my best work to the clients. In this day and age anyone with a digital camera is a photographer, but I would like to think my lifetime of experience sets me apart from those who have never looked through a viewfinder until they purchased their first basic DSLR. It’s incredibly frustrating to have someone tell me how wonderful my work is yet they feel they can cheapen what I do by wanting me to lower my prices for them. If I am going to make a living doing this, I need to help my clients to understand my value.

Being the daughter of a professional photographer I grew up understanding the basics of what it takes to make an incredible photograph, and the lessons learned in that darkroom have manifested into how I see and process the images I take. I view things as a painter of light and I can see composition in the simplest of ideas. I know a few photographers who take incredible photographs simply with their cell phones and yes I call them photographers because they understand light and composition and see things so uniquely, they are constantly producing some of the most creative images I have ever seen.  The camera is simply an instrument of what the eyes see and the heart feels.

My job as your photographer is to creative an image that first tells a story and second will leave a legacy to your family and lastly to make you feel and look incredible no matter if you are male or female. You cannot put a value on that. Anyone who has taken photos of their children understand this concept. When people lose their homes to flood or fire or some natural disaster they first thing they either take with them or look for is their photographs, why? Because many of those photographs are from an era that has passed and it’s all they have left of a loved one. I am so honored to have many of the photographs my father took and those from my mother’s family.

So when you see my work and you visit my menu of services, remember the value of those photographs, they are my passion and understand my frustration when you undervalue your legacy.

Giving up?

You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait.    This past week was one of those weeks.  I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities.  For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life.  As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world.  I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback.  These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use.  Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.

I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work.  I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing.  However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient).  I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about.  Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.

Luke Bryan-31 (Medium)Luke Bryan-29 (Medium)

A Final Farewell

2014 02 08_Butterflies_1256_edited-1

I really had not planned on writing tonight, but I’m home instead of being out celebrating and I didn’t know I would be as emotional about this whole New Year thing, but here I am at the computer typing my thoughts for the world to read.  So here goes….

This time last year on December 31, 2013 I was also alone, but I went out and enjoyed an evening at a local establishment (which sadly is no longer open), listened to a band who was losing their lead singer to cancer, it was to be his final performance, he passed a month later. When I first arrived at my table, I was a bit upset, they didn’t seat me with anyone……I was in a huge outdoor seating area, sitting alone at a table for four and I felt really awkward and thought maybe I shouldn’t be there.  You see I had just ended a four-year relationship and was determined that my life was going to be better alone than what I was enduring the last couple of years in that relationship.  As I sat at my table being served a wonderful surf & turf dinner by the best waitress ever, I kept thinking “2014 will be my year”.  It was quite chilly and I wasn’t really dressed for the coolness, but I endured to midnight, had a glass of champagne and toasted what was to come.  A young girl came over to me and gave me a huge hug and invited me to her table, I declined,  You see I was holding back tears, because I wanted her to know I was fine and really wasn’t staying much longer.  I finished my glass, and took the rest of the bottle to their larger table and wished them all a Happy New Year and left.  Driving home I was almost smiling at the thought that I got through the evening and I was going to be just fine.

Life simply got better, I was surrounded by friends who rallied around me and kept me encouraged in the midst of those sad few trying to discredit me and my work.  I threw myself into my photography and began to pick up more and more work.  I realized I was much more successful on my own and was regaining my self-confidence and finding my lost identity once again.  I have talent and my photography is good and even though the gossip mongers were trying to tear me down I was surpassing my own expectations!  I also picked up a new partner in my photography; my son Tommy who is incredible and he knows how to use his camera, he’s so amazingly talented and creative. We are my father’s prodigies, he would be proud of us.

Tommy allowed  me to photograph him and in return I succumbed to the front of his lens as well, not an easy task for a photographer.  It felt awkward and unnatural, but after a few minutes I began to enjoy the experience and really loved the images he produced of me.

Tommy-2 Tommy-25 Mother's Day shoot-5 Mother's Day shoot-16

As the year progressed I was able to add an incredible amount of images to my portfolio and actually had the privilege of photographing my all time favorite former Beatle Ringo Starr (bucket list).

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

I have had a set back or two, but I never allowed them to get the best of me, because I know I’m right where I need to be.  God is in control of my life and what I am doing.  My faith is unwavering.  The end of the year has been trying with finding out a close friend was diagnosed with cancer, thankfully she is a fighter and it didn’t win, she did! I’ve added friends to my very small circle and I love each one of them.  I also just sent a text my to my son and his response brought on the emotions.  I have two incredible boys and my youngest is a lot like me in more ways than with a camera.

So here I am ending my year in a puddle of tears, yet I know 2015 is going to be even better than 2014.  I will find love again this year because I’m ready and I know God is preparing someone for me, and I will be one step closer to realizing my dream of being a full-time working photographer.  I am beginning the new year documenting the journey back to health of a woman in the fight for her life and hope to highlight her here in the very near future.  So to all of my followers, stay tuned, it’s only going to get better.  God Bless each of you, treat each moment as if it could be your last….Love, laugh, dance and sing…… 2015 is going to ROCK!  Happy New Year!

Shortness of Life

Christmas-3 (Medium)Christmas is a great time to love on your family and to enjoy each other and to laugh.  I know as I grow older, family and friends become so very important.  When you are a child, you think time passes so very slowly……you can’t wait for Christmas break.  As you get older those holiday breaks come even faster and disappear just as fast.  This holiday was spent with friends and family and it could not have been any better.   I used to love decorating and getting the house ready for the boys and the visit from Santa, but lately I have not felt that inspiration to decorate.  For several years I didn’t even want to celebrate.  The last couple of years have been truly amazing and I have had so much fun with my family.  I love watching the little ones open their gifts, I have missed that excitement.

After hearing some not so good news today, I once again realize how short life can be.  We never know when our last breath will be, and we need to take each day and make it the best we can.  Dance as if no one is watching, sing in the shower as if no one is listening, love like it will be your last, and be with those that make you happy.  Let your loved ones know how you feel otherwise you may never get the chance.  We are only given so many beats of our heart, use those beats with passion.  Don’t wait, because you think you may have the time; death is not considerate of age, it can come at any time.  So for this Christmas season, I spent it with the exact people I was supposed to spend it with and will continue to let those I care about know how I feel throughout this coming New Year.

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